NYT Compares "Fake News" to "Terrorist Threats"... Earnest Forced To Cite First Amendment FOUR TIMES, As Press Corps Insists White House Censor News
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was forced to remind the press corps the federal government can’t censor news because of the First Amendment, in a bizarre exchange during a White House press briefing Monday.
“Obviously, there are some important First Amendment issues that come into play when we’re having this discussion,” Earnest said, rebuffing a call for the White House to work toward censoring “fake news” on social media. He brought up the constitutional prohibition on censorship three more times before the conversation ended.
New York Times White House correspondent Gardiner Harris had asked Earnest whether the administration treats threats based on “fake news” — such as the man who recently entered a Washington, D.C., pizza shop with a gun to investigate something he read online — the same as it treats terror threats. The implication was that the White House should get Facebook to censor “fake news” the same way it has pushed Facebook to censor these terrorists.
“I’ve never heard you talk about what the administration is doing, even not just on a law enforcement basis but a policy basis, reaching out to these Silicon Valley companies,” he said to Earnest. “I mean, the President has recently been discussing the problem of fake news on Facebook. Why hasn’t there been a concern — a growing concern on the part of the administration about what seems to be a growing amount of vitriol directed at a variety of people, sometimes violent vitriol, within the United States?”